Moving is one of the few things we do that can literally be both a dream and a nightmare at the same time. On the one hand, you are probably very excited for change and for what is coming. On the other hand, you still need to move out of your old place. Packing, boxes, garage sales—so much to do! And wait, you still need to sell your house or buy the next one. These are major hurdles and you will likely enlist the assistance of a real estate agent to help you, but finding a real estate agent is a hurdle of its own. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when looking for a real estate agent to assist you in buying or selling a home.
• Remember that your broker works for you and not vice versa. It can be easy to defer to your agent's “expertise,” advice, and conditions. But keep in mind that he/she is working for you; you don't work for him/her.
• Do some research on home values in your neighborhood. The more you know about your own home value and what surrounds your home, the better off you will be when dealing with your broker. If you know your neighbor sold his house for a cool mill, and your houses are very similar, you'll know to be skeptical of any broker who thinks that you should settle for $500K.
• Fees are always negotiable. You will find that brokers are going to give you the impression that their fees are set in stone, but really this is not the case. You need to be careful, as you always must be in negotiations when trying to get your agent to lower their commission. Make sure you have leverage and that you are asking for a reasonable “discount” off the standard percentage.
• Your broker is supposed to tell you about every offer, but might not. Sometimes your broker won't tell you about an offer because he/she thinks it's too low for what he/she will get out of it, not you. Brokers might not tell you about an offer because they're holding out for something higher. Watch out for this and check in with your real estate agent to see what, if anything, has come in.
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• Open houses are usually a waste of time for you, but not for your broker. Your broker will almost certainly urge you to hold an open house to find potential buyers. But the National Association for Realtors recently conducted a study which found that the open house success rate is only 2%. But realtors use them for another reason: to find clients. Think about it, all those people in the market for a new home just walking right in. It builds a new customer base.
• Remember who is paying for the broker; that is where the loyalties lie. If you are a buyer, you're not paying the broker, so don't expect him/her to keep information about you from the seller. If you tell the broker you're offering $500K but would really go up to $600K that information will get passed along.
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